Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 24 March 2014
Page: 2913

Ms CLAYDON (Newcastle) (10:36): Last Friday night I had the pleasure of attending the annual Steel Magnolia Awards night in my electorate of Newcastle. This important event recognises steel magnolias—that is, women of courage, strength and hope who have made a significant community contribution in the face of unimaginable adversity. Since 2004 Lifeline Newcastle and Hunter have hosted this award to pay tribute to the amazing women in celebration of their contributions to our community. Each year a group of finalists are recognised at this ceremony and, while each of their stories is unique and their contribution extraordinary, one woman is singled out and awarded the Steel Magnolia Award.

The 2014 Steel Magnolia Award finalists were Gwendalyn Burt, Michelle Davis, Diana Hyett, Susanne Jenkins, Julie Lewis, Tanyia McBride and Lorraine Sandlant. This year Michelle Davis was awarded the Steel Magnolia Award for her tireless work campaigning for road safety. In 2005 Michelle lost her two teenage sons in a car crash in Morpeth, not far from their home in Maitland. In the face of her incredible loss, Michelle wanted to do something to help improve road safety for teenagers and to deliver a positive message of hope for those suffering tragic loss. Michelle joined Sergeant David Collis of New South Wales Highway Patrol, Paul Alexander, a paramedic from the Ambulance Service of NSW, and Simon Thomas, from the New South Wales Police Force, to initiate ROADwhyz, a program that delivers a powerful road safety message to school students and their parents. The ROADwhyz Choice and Consequence program, launched in schools in the Hunter, has expanded to Victoria. It pairs an experienced educator with a police officer, ambulance service person and Highway Patrol representative to deliver a strong road safety message. Michelle was also recognised for her role as a co-founder for the HOPE support group, a group of mutual encouragement and support that believes strongly that in helping others we help ourselves.

At the event we also heard from another amazing woman who has been recognised recently for an outstanding community contribution. Newcastle Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy was the recipient of the 2013 Gold Walkley Award for her reporting to expose the sexual abuse of children, primarily by Catholic clergy, in Newcastle and the Hunter. Her unrelenting work over seven years, which included more than 350 articles, was instrumental in campaigning for the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Last year McCarthy was recognised by another great Australian woman, Julia Gillard, who, in one of her final acts as Prime Minister, wrote a letter of thanks to McCarthy for her reporting. In that letter the Prime Minister wrote:

Thanks in large measure to your persistence and courage, the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry and the federal Royal Commission will bring truth and healing to the victims of horrendous abuse and betrayal.

I echo the sentiment of former Prime Minister Gillard and share Joanne's belief, which she iterated on Friday night, that we should never remained silent in the face of injustice. (Time expired)